Shortly after using a homophobic slur during a game last month, Cincinnati Reds play-by-play broadcaster Thom Brennaman looked into a Fox Sports Ohio camera and said, “I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again.”
Now Brennaman has voluntarily given up that headset, resigning Friday from his role with the Reds and Fox Sports Ohio. Brennaman was suspended by the team the night of the incident and the next day by Fox Sports, with whom he also calls NFL games. He has not taken part in any football broadcasts this season.
“The Reds respect Thom Brennaman’s decision to step away from the broadcast booth and applaud his heartfelt efforts of reconciliation with the LGBTQ+ community,” Reds owner Bob Castellini said in a statement Friday. “The Brennaman family has been an intrinsic part of the Reds history for nearly 50 years. We sincerely thank Thom for bringing the excitement of Reds baseball to millions of fans during his years in the booth. And we appreciate the warm welcome Thom showed our fans at Redsfest and on the Reds caravan. He is a fantastic talent and a good man who remains part of the Reds family forever. We wish him well.”
“We thank Thom for his contributions to FOX Sports Ohio over the years and join the Reds in wishing him well in his future endeavors,” Fox Sports Cincinnati tweeted.
During the first game of a doubleheader between the Reds and Kansas City Royals on Aug. 19, Brennaman was caught on air saying, “One of the f– capitals of the world” before reading a promotion. Apparently unbeknown to Brennaman, his words spread across social media as he went on to call the first four innings of the second game of the doubleheader.
“I made a comment earlier tonight, that I guess went out over the air, that I am deeply ashamed of,” Brennaman said later in the game. “If I have hurt anyone out there, I can’t tell you how much I say, from the bottom of my heart, I’m so very, very sorry. I pride myself and think of myself as a man of faith.”
Reds outfielder Nick Castellanos homered while Brennaman was delivering his apology, leading the broadcaster to pause, call the play and note the score change.
“I don’t know if I’m going to be putting on this headset again,” Brennaman resumed. “I don’t know if it’s going to be for the Reds. I don’t know if it’s going to be for my bosses at Fox. I want to apologize to the people who sign my paycheck, for the Reds, for Fox Sports Ohio, for the people I work with, for anybody that I’ve offended here tonight. I can’t begin to tell you how deeply sorry I am. That is not who I am. It never has been. And I’d like to think maybe I could have some people who can back that up. I am very, very sorry and I beg for your forgiveness.”
Brennaman, 57, had been calling Reds games since 2007 and was in his 33rd consecutive season of broadcasting MLB games. He was slated to announce games on the NFL on Fox for the 27th straight season before his suspension. His father, Marty, was the Reds’ radio voice from 1974 through the end of the 2019 season. Saturday marks the first anniversary of Marty’s final broadcast.
“As a dad, I hurt for him,” Marty Brennaman told the Cincinnati Enquirer that night. “What he said is not a reflection of who Thom Brennaman is. I know that’s not him. But I also feel terrible for the people the comment offended.
“An open mic is the biggest enemy you have,” Marty Brennaman continued. “You always have to be conscious that the microphone could be open. The worst feeling in the world, if you’re not on the air, is that you say something and you hear it coming back into your headset.”
That night, the Reds said in a statement that the organization was “devastated by the horrific, homophobic remark” and that Brennaman was immediately suspended from Reds broadcasts.
“We share our sincerest apologies to the LGBTQ+ community in Cincinnati, Kansas City, all across this country, and beyond,” the statement continued. “The Reds embrace a zero-tolerance policy for bias or discrimination of any kind, and we are truly sorry to anyone who has been offended.”
In a letter published by the Enquirer the day after his remarks, Brennaman apologized again.
“The simple fact is, what I said was wrong,” Brennaman wrote. “I used a word that is both offensive and insulting. In the past hours, I have read about its history; I had no idea it was so rooted in hate and violence and am particularly ashamed that I, someone who makes his living by the use of words, could be so careless and insensitive. It’s a word that should have no place in my vocabulary and I will certainly never utter it again.
“To the LGBTQ+ community – I am truly and deeply sorry. You should never be denigrated with crude and hateful language. I failed you, and I cannot say enough how sorry I am.”
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